Cuyamaca College Typical Anatomy of a Journal Article in Political Science

  1. Download Article 2: Box-Steffensmeier, J. M., et al. (2019). “Cue-Taking in Congress: Interest Group Signals from Dear Colleague Letters.” American Journal of Political Science 63(1): 163-180.
  2. Read Article 2
  3. Optional: Schedule a tutoring appointment with the Writing Center or meet with a NetTutor (if available)
  4. Identify the 10 parts of the article, as described in the Anatomy of a Journal Article
  5. To demonstrate identification, hand write or electronically write in the margins of the article

Anatomy of a Journal Article

What does Journal Article Analysis Consist of?

Journal Article Analysis consists of reading journal articles and analyzing them. You are responsible for identifying ten parts of a journal article: title, main point and question, puzzle, debate, theory, hypotheses, research design, empirical analysis, policy implications, and contribution to the discipline and future research.

Journal Articles vary in their organization and inclusion of these ten parts. Many articles explicitly describe all or most of these parts; however, other articles may not state a part, or may omit it entirely.

You are responsible for analyzing 2 journal articles during the course.

Typical Anatomy of a Journal Article in Political Science

Journal Articles, especially in the field of political science, typically have ten parts.

  • The Title of an article appears on the first page of the article. The Title is brief, typically no more than 5-10 words, and identifies for the reader the subject of the article.
  • The Main Point and Question of an article are typically found in the Abstract. An Abstract is a summary of the article which is located on the first page, after the Title. The main point and question may be in the Introduction of the article.
  • The Puzzle is a missing piece of knowledge that the article seeks to fulfill.
  • The Debate is how scholars currently argue the subject of the article. Debates have at least two sides, and the two sides we are most familiar with are “pro” and “con”. However, debates can be more complex.
  • The Theory is how the author thinks something works. For example, we may have a theory about how campaigns influence voters. Theories consists of constants, variables, and the relationships between variables.
  • The Hypotheses are derived from the Theory. A hypothesis is the expectation that one variable effects another variable in a specific way.
  • The Research Design is how the author compares the effect of the explanatory variable (X) on the outcome variable (O) in a group (G) or set of groups.
  • The Empirical Analysis is the use of quantitative or qualitative evidence to explore whether the hypothesized relationship between two variables does indeed occur in the world.
  • The Policy Implications are how the findings of the article should influence the behavior of individuals, groups, organizations, or governments.
  • Finally, the Contribution to the Discipline and Future Research are how the article helps fill the missing Puzzle piece, as well as offer suggestions for future research that build on the findings from the article.

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